Jamie Collins

AFC East Notes: Patriots Trades, Collins, Bills, Hughes, Jets, Sterling

The Patriots are annually one of the most aggressive teams in the league when it comes to adding talent, as evidenced by their recent trade for Josh Gordon. With the trade deadline now just a couple of days away, New England is looking to make more moves. The team wants “to acquire some help in the defensive front seven by the deadline Tuesday”, and “they’ve had internal discussions about trading for linebacker Jamie Collins“, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

The Patriots traded Collins to the Browns in 2016, and now apparently have some interest in bringing him back. It would be an unusual move with a player being traded twice between two teams, but the Browns would likely welcome the relief of getting out of Collins’ contract, and it sounds like the Patriots are interested. Collins signed a four-year $50MM deal with Cleveland in 2017, and hasn’t lived up to that deal so far. Whatever happens, it sounds like the Patriots’ defense will look a little different by this time next week.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes “has been a hot name on the trade market”, but the “Bills have been reluctant to part with him”, a source told Howe. Howe thinks that Hughes would “be a good fit for the Patriots”, but doesn’t think Buffalo will decide to part with him. Hughes has been having a good season, notching 4.5 sacks in seven games.
  • Jets tight end Neal Sterling “suffered his second concussion of the season” today against the Bears, and “likely will be lost [for] multiple games”, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN (Twitter link). The Jets are very thin at tight end, so this is a somewhat significant loss for New York.
  • Bills running back LeSean McCoy has cleared the concussion protocol and will play Monday night against the Patriots, the team announced in a tweet. It’s a huge boost for Buffalo’s struggling offense as they look to pull of the massive upset in primetime.

Extra Points: Bengals, Bucs, Browns, Chiefs, Broncos

Matt Barkley suffered a Grade 3 MCL sprain in Thursday night’s preseason game, which could end the veteran quarterback’s chance to serve as the Bengals‘ No. 2 signal-caller, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Barkley, whom Cincinnati inked to a two-year deal during the offseason, will likely be placed on injured reserve, although he could return later in the season. Given his lackluster play during the exhibition season, Barkley was likely going to lose out to Jeff Driskel in the Bengals’ backup quarterback battle even before injury luck intervened.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Buccaneers could make a waiver claim for a veteran backup offensive lineman over the weekend, but don’t expect them to orchestrate any trades, tweets Greg Auman of The Athletic. Starting left tackle Donovan Smith is expected to be sidelined for another one-to-three weeks after suffering a knee sprain earlier this month, so Tampa Bay could certainly aim to add bodies to its front five. However, offensive tackle depth is sparse league-wide, so it’s unclear if the Bucs will be able to find any competent options. At present, journeyman Michael Liedtke is set to fill in for Smith if the latter misses regular season action.
  • The Browns released linebacker Mychal Kendricks on Wednesday after he was shockingly charged with insider trading, but the 27-year-old had been performing so well in Cleveland that other clubs believed fellow ‘backer Jamie Collins was available via trade, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Crucially, Breer does not indicate the Browns were shopping Collins or had any intention of moving him, but the mere fact that rival teams believed Collins could be had is notable. Cleveland sent a third-round pick to New England in exchange for Collins in 2016, and subsequently re-signed him to a four-year, $50MM contract the following year. Collins, who played in only six games last season before going on injured reserve with a torn MCL, will join Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert as Cleveland’s starting linebackers.
  • Orlando Scandrick‘s one-year deal with the Chiefs contains a base salary of $915K and includes up to $500K in per-game roster bonuses, reports Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Scandrick had already collected $1MM in guarantees from the Redskins, who signed the veteran defensive back in March before releasing him earlier this month. Now that Steven Nelson has returned to Chiefs practice, Scandrick is competing with David Amerson for Kansas City’s third corner role.
  • Broncos linebacker Jerrol Garcia-Williams will undergo season-ending surgery after suffering a torn ACL, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Garcia-Williams appeared in 11 games for Denver last season after going undrafted out of Hawaii, but was primarily limited to special teams duty (he saw only 23 defensive snaps). Speculatively, Garcia-Williams’ injury could open the door for the Broncos to reunite with fellow linebacker Corey Nelson, who was released by the Eagles on Sunday.

Browns’ Jamie Collins Done For Season

Browns linebacker Jamie Collins is done for the season with a torn MCL, coach Hue Jackson announced. Collins has officially been placed on the injured reserve list, per a team announcement. Jamie Collins (vertical)

Collins was injured after pulling down his first interception of the season in the first quarter of action. Although he was able to walk off of the field under his own power, doctors diagnosed him with an MCL injury after the game. Today, he was informed that the tear was severe and would require several months of rest.

Collins, 27, re-signed with the Browns this offseason on a four-year, $50MM contract. At the time, the former Patriot probably had higher hopes for the Browns rebuild. After yesterday’s loss, the Browns have now sank to 0-9 on the year.

The linebacker’s season ends with 31 total tackles, one interception, one sack, one forced fumble, and three pass deflections.

For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus has him rated as one of the worst qualified linebackers in the NFL this year with a 35.9 overall score. He had a similarly disappointing 47.6 mark last year, a major drop from his work with the Pats in ’14 and ’15.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Rumors: Jackson, Thomas, Collins

While questions about the effectiveness of the current Browns regime’s plan continue to emerge, there are NFL personnel who believe in what Cleveland’s trying to do. Some around the league remain bullish on the franchise’s strategy of stockpiling draft picks with the hope lapping the field in terms high-value selections can’t help but lead to a strong foundation, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes. Of course, the Browns benching their second-round rookie quarterback for a player who was on their practice squad a year ago in advance of a meeting with the surging Deshaun Watson doesn’t make for great optics. But Pelissero adds Jimmy Haslam, his history of impatience in this department notwithstanding, had to know this experiment wasn’t going to go well early. But the new regime’s 1-20 record piling up many more losses before picking up that second win still might mean trouble for either Hue Jackson or the Sashi Brown-led front office.

Here’s the latest out of Cleveland.

  • One asset perpetually linked to a trade for draft picks figures to re-emerge in these discussions before the Halloween deadline. Joe Thomas is still playing at an All-Pro level in his 11th season, but with the Browns having done so much to acquire high draft picks, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if the team having once again fallen out of contention so soon would make a trade sensible. Thomas being on a team-friendly deal (a non-guaranteed salary of $8.8MM is attached to Thomas’ through-2018 contract) would stand to help in potential talks, and Browns management would seemingly be running out of time to cash in its top asset and grab another Day 2 pick (Thomas turns 33 in December). But Florio adds Thomas’ presence stands to help keep fans interested in the team, one that doesn’t look interested in competing for a playoff spot any time soon.
  • Whether Kizer reclaims his job and fares better down the stretch or not, the Browns’ new-look front office is unlikely to let the rookie’s performance affect the strategy of gauging 2018 draft options, Bud Shaw of cleveland.com writes. The Browns passed on Watson in part because they wanted to be in a strong position to draft a possible higher-end quarterback prospect next year. Choosing Watson at No. 12 would have provided a stronger impediment toward doing that than taking one at No. 52, where Kizer was chosen.
  • For the first time this season, the Browns will have their top two defensive investments on a game field together. Jamie Collins will return after missing three games due to a concussion, Dan Labbe of cleveland.com reports. It will mark the first time the outside linebacker and Myles Garrett will play together in a regular-season contest. Garrett registered two sacks in 19 snaps during his debut in Week 5.

Extra Points: Broncos, Jags, 49ers, Falcons

The Broncos have been connected to quarterback Tony Romo, whom they could pursue in free agency if the Cowboys cut him, but head coach Vance Joseph insisted Tuesday that Denver’s 2017 starter is already on its roster. On whether he’s committed to Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, Joseph said (via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com): “Absolutely, I am. They’re both smart guys. Obviously different skill sets, but I’m committed to both of those kids. They’re good football players and we’ve got to build around those guys.” Joseph’s offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, echoed his boss, saying he’s “happy with the guys we have.”

After the Broncos hired Joseph and McCoy last month, Mike Klis of 9News reported that the club would rather start Lynch than Siemian next season. As a first-round rookie last year, Lynch sat behind Siemian – who fared OK in his first season as a No. 1 – but did see action in three games and pick up two starts.

More from around the NFL:

  • Browns linebacker Jamie Collins and cornerback Joe Haden; Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree and punter Marquette King; and Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David each saw portions of their contracts become fully guaranteed Wednesday. The details can be found here, via CBS Sports’ Joel Corry.
  • Of Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas‘ $7MM salary in 2017, $3MM will become fully guaranteed Friday, per Corry, but Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union disputes that. Thomas isn’t due to receive the $3MM until March 9, the first day of the league year, a source told O’Halloran (Twitter link).
  • The Kyle Shanahan-led 49ers will hire longtime NFL defensive lineman Jeff Zgonina as their D-line coach, reports Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. Zgonina, who played in the league from 1993-2005, spent last season assisting along the Giants’ defensive line.
  • Shanahan could bring former Falcons colleague Eric Sutulovich with him to the 49ers, tweets ESPN’s Adam Caplan. Sutulovich, who’s the Falcons’ assistant special teams coach, will likely interview to become the 49ers’ ST coordinator, relays Caplan.
  • One assistant the Falcons won’t lose is Keith Carter, whom they promoted to running backs coach Wednesday. Carter worked as Atlanta’s assistant offensive line coach over the previous two seasons. The club is also likely to hire Bryant Young to replace the fired Bryan Cox as its defensive line coach, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Young, a four-time Pro Bowl D-lineman who accumulated 89.5 sacks as a careerlong 49er from 1994-2007, played under Falcons head coach Dan Quinn in San Francisco (2001-04) and coached alongside him at Florida (2011-12).

Extra Points: Patriots, Ryan, Browns, 49ers

The Patriots ultimately traded linebacker Jamie Collins to the Browns in late October for a third-round pick, but the Pats initially had their sights set much higher. We learned back in December that New England tried to deal Collins to New Orleans for receiver Brandin Cooks, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com wrote today that the Patriots also tried to trade Collins to the Texans for DeAndre Hopkins. Unsurprisingly, Houston was unwilling to entertain that offer, but New England also attempted to pry Johnathan Joseph from the Texans in exchange for Collins. Houston was more intrigued by that proposal but valued Joseph too highly to pull the trigger.

Now let’s take a look at a few more links from around the league:

  • On the subject of seminal trades, the Ravens were ready to part with their entire 2008 draft class in order to trade up to take Matt Ryan at No. 2 that year, Rapoport reports. The Ravens held the No. 8 pick and offered their entire ’08 picks stockpile to the Rams, who held the No. 2 choice. St. Louis also wanted Baltimore’s second-round pick in 2009, which ended up being Paul Kruger, to clinch that deal, per Rapoport. The Rams ended up taking Chris Long at No. 2, with the Ravens trading down to No. 18 and selecting Joe Flacco. In the ’08 draft, Baltimore acquired Ray Rice in the second round but largely whiffed on its other picks. However, the Ravens ended up making 10 selections. The Falcons selected Ryan at No. 3 overall.
  • More trades: we learned in recent weeks that the team is willing to deal backup Jimmy Garoppolo and that the 49ers, Browns, and Bears could be among the teams with interest. In her latest mailbag, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believes the Browns would be willing to part with their No. 12 overall selection as part of a Garoppolo deal if that’s what it takes to land the young signal-caller.
  • John Lynch isn’t completely devoid of scouting experience, with Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com noting the former Buccaneers and Broncos safety joining recently hired 49ers exec Adam Peters in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, eventually accompanying Denver’s contingent to the 2013 Combine. John Elway also put Lynch on some special assignments in recent offseasons, per Maiocco, dispatching the eventual Hall of Fame finalist to evaluate draft-eligible safeties.
  • In an expansive breakdown of today’s Super Bowl teams’ financial distribution, CBSSports.com’s Joel Corry writes the Patriots using the franchise tag on Martellus Bennett isn’t out of the question due to Rob Gronkowski‘s inability to stay healthy. Corry projects the tight end tag number to come in at $9.894MM. The Patriots have Dont’a Hightower as their apparent top tag candidate, but the linebacker’s tag is slated to be $14.754MM, which could lead the Patriots to proceed with caution despite having already traded Collins and Chandler Jones.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Ravens

Should the Browns‘ newly assembled power structure consult the team’s franchise player about a plan for the No. 1 overall pick, Joe Thomas would not use it on a quarterback. Going into his 11th year, the perennial All-Pro left tackle would rather see his team use the selection to bolster the pass rush.

I think you need to get a pass-rusher,” Thomas said on the Dan Patrick Show today (via Pat McManamon of ESPN.com). “… You gotta be careful reaching for a quarterback at No. 1 because if they fail, they don’t help your team at all. Whereas if you pick a defensive lineman and maybe they don’t live up to the hype, you can still find a place to get him on the field and to have an impact. We need guys that can come in and start and that can contribute.”

Thomas, who has two years left on his Browns deal and will turn 33 during the 2017 season, said in the past the Browns need to identify a franchise quarterback. There isn’t a better spot to do that than the No. 1 pick. But this quarterback class — fronted by Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer and Cleveland-area product Mitch Trubisky — has divided scouts. The Browns have been reportedly coveting Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett at No. 1 and considering a Watson pick at No. 12. But obviously, the versatile Clemson talent is no lock to be there when Cleveland’s second first-round window opens, given quarterback prospects’ rises as drafts near.

Here’s more from northeast Ohio and some other regions housing AFC North franchises.

  • Jamie Collinsfour-year, $50MM extension will pay $37.5MM in its first three years before containing no guaranteed money during the 2020 season, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets. Collins will also receive a $5MM signing bonus as part of the deal (per Howe, on Twitter) which includes $26.5MM guaranteed.
  • Negotiations between the Ravens and UFA nose tackle Brandon Williams have not yet begun but are expected to commence before he hits the market, Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun notes. Even before Zach Orr‘s retirement, Williams was set to be the top priority, per Preston, for a Ravens team that’s lost numerous talents in free agency in recent years. It’s a big year for free agent defensive tackles, with Dontari Poe and Kawann Short residing as impending UFAs.
  • The Ravens tied up some loose ends on their coaching staff today, per the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zreibec (on Twitter). Chris Hewitt will take over new Bills DC Leslie Frazier‘s position as secondary coach, and Mike MacDonald will assist him, Zreibec tweets. Craig Ver Steeg, a nine-year Ravens offensive assistant, will coach quarterbacks, will slide over from skill-position assistance to helping QBs coach/OC Marty Mornhinweg with the signal-callers, Zreibec notes (on Twitter). Drew Wilkins will serve as the assistant defensive line coach. Each of these staffers’ assignment changes represents an internal promotion.
  • The Steelers could determine another year with Ladarius Green is too risky, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes. Green will enter his sixth season after experiencing a disastrous fifth, playing in just six games. However, he averaged 50.7 yards per game and made several big plays when healthy. But concussion issues dogged Green to the point Mike Tomlin said a decision needs to be made about the tight end. “I don’t have an assessment, long-term, of where he is,” Tomlin said. “I think that’s one of the chief medical decisions and questions that we have to have moving forward, in terms of guys getting an assessment of their overall health and what it means for 2017.” A Green cut will cost the Steelers $3.56MM in dead money while saving the team barely $2MM. Green said earlier this week he does not intend to retire.
  • Antonio Brown‘s constant desire for targets has rubbed many teammates the wrong way, but his occasionally selfish ways aren’t viewed as detrimental to the team, Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette writes. Ben Roethlisberger has told the All-Pro wideout to “shut up” multiple times on the field, and since-retired tight end Heath Miller told Brown to “stop complaining about not getting the ball” at a 2015 practice. However, Dulac notes Brown not a problem in the locker room. This could be a key point as Brown’s payday looms.

Browns, Jamie Collins Agree To Extension

The Browns have locked up one of the top impending free agents. The organization announced that they have signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a four-year contract. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport says (via Twitter) the deal is worth $50MM, with $26MM in guaranteed money.

Jamie Collins (vertical)When reports surfaced last week that the two sides were close to an extension, it was said that the Browns defender was focused on topping Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly‘s $12.36MM average yearly salary. Since Collins’ annual salary will presumably be lingering around $12.5MM, it appears that he succeeded in his goal. Among linebackers, Collins’ annual salary will only trail Von Miller, Justin Houston and Clay Matthews.

Collins had previously turned down $11MM a season from the Patriots. While this new contract surely would have strapped New England, the Browns have plenty of money to spend thanks to their projected $110MM in cap space.

Following three-plus seasons in New England, Collins was traded to the Browns for a conditional 2017 third- or fourth-round pick. The linebacker ultimately started each of his eight games with Cleveland, compiling 69 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble. In his seven games (six starts) for the Patriots, Collins collected 43 tackles, two interceptions, and one sack. Pro Football Focus ranked Collins 44th among NFL edge defenders this past season. The 2013 second-round pick was a Pro Bowler in 2015 after finishing that campaign with 89 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and five forced fumbles.

“We are going to be aggressive about acquiring talent, and when we had the opportunity to trade for Jamie back in October, it was done with the intent of him becoming a long-term part of our defense,” said Sashi Brown, Executive Vice President of Football Operations. “Jamie has shown throughout his NFL career that he is a very talented player with a rare skill set that allows him to impact games in a number of ways. He’s a versatile, smart, competitive and physical football player who has experienced winning at the highest level. Jamie was great to have in our building this season, and we look forward to him being a Cleveland Brown for a number of years to come. We are counting on him to be a big part of us becoming a winning team.”

“From the day I walked in the door, I felt welcomed by my new teammates and everyone in this organization,” Collins said. “The past is the past as far as last season’s record, but today is a new day. I’m only looking forward. I know we have a lot of work to do, and with Coach Hue leading us and the front office bringing in talent, I feel like we are going to get there and I feel good about continuing my career here.”

With Collins locked up, the Browns can now shift focus to another major free agent. Wideout Terrelle Pryor is set to become a free agent following his breakout 2016 campaign. Since the team signed Collins to an extension, the Browns could look to apply the franchise tag to Pryor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns, LB Jamie Collins Close To Extension

FRIDAY, 11:04am: The looming extension for Collins will establish a new high ground for non-rush linebackers, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reporting (on Twitter) Collins’ new deal will be worth more than Kuechly’s $12.36MM-per-year average. The Browns are projected to possess a staggering $109MM in cap space, according to OverTheCap, so they could afford this despite a number of glaring needs.

THURSDAY, 6:55pm: The Browns are nearing an extension with linebacker Jamie Collins and should have an agreement in place by the weekend, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.Jamie Collins

[RELATED: Top 3 Offseason Needs — Cleveland Browns]

Cleveland, of course, acquired Collins from the Patriots in the fall, sacrificing a conditional third- or fourth-round pick (depending on the circumstances) to do so. New England presumably traded Collins, in part, due to his contractual demands, as he was due to hit unrestricted free agency this March. Collins reportedly turned down an $11MM per/year extension offer from the Patriots, and was intent on topping fellow linebacker Luke Kuechly‘s $12.36MM yearly average.

While those figures may have presented a problem for New England, the Browns are in prime position to meet Collins’ requests, as they’re projected to head into the offseason with a league-high $110MM in cap space. As such, Cleveland has more than enough financial wiggle room to extend Collins, re-sign fellow pending free agent Terrelle Pryor, and explore the open market for upgrades. Of course, by extending Collins, the Browns have afforded themselves the opportunity to use the franchise tag on Pryor if extension talks fail.

Ranking seventh on PFR’s 2017 Free Agents Power Rankings, Collins had expressed an interest in re-signing with Cleveland before hitting free agency this spring. “(Losing is a deterrent) but at the same time, money comes into play around that time,” Collins said last month. “If the money is right then I could stay here. Obviously I’m not going to turn it down.”

Collins, 27, started eight games for the Browns after being shipped to Cleveland, posting 48 tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble during that time. All told, Collins graded as just the 44th-best edge defender in the league, per Pro Football Focus, a far lower rating that he’d attained in years past. Reports indicated that Collins had begun “freelancing” in New England’s defense, but clearly the Browns were impressed enough by his half-season stint to retain him for the long haul.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings

The regular season is over and, for most teams, the offseason is underway. Here is the latest installment of our 2017 NFL Free Agent Power Rankings, which is comprised only of upcoming unrestricted free agents, and is ranked by projected guaranteed money. In parentheses next to each player, you’ll find their position in the November edition of the rankings. For more, check out our master list of all 2017 free agents.

2017 Free Agent Power Rankings With Text (vertical)

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (1): In 2015, Cousins established himself as a solid NFL quarterback. That summer, the Redskins told Cousins they wanted him to prove it all over again before giving him a monster contract. Cousins was happy to oblige and he has now increased his value even further. After a so-so start to 2016 season, Cousins closed out strong to finish as Pro Football Focus’ No. 8 ranked QB, putting him ahead of notables such as Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, and Philip Rivers. All of those players have gotten their big pay day and now it’s time for Cousins to join the club. "<strong

2. Chandler Jones, LB/DE (2): Before you start salivating over the idea of Jones joining your favorite team’s front seven, we have some bad news: Bruce Arians says the Cardinals will place the franchise tag on him if they cannot agree on a long-term deal. Whether it’s on a one-year, $16.955MM deal or a multi-year contract that tops Olivier Vernon‘s Giants deal, it sounds like Jones is staying put. Jones, 27 in May, played in all 16 games this year and racked up 11 sacks.

3. Kawann Short, DT (4): Contract talks between the Panthers and Short stalled last summer and Fletcher Cox‘s market-boosting deal with the Eagles didn’t help matters. Short wound up playing 2016 for peanuts ($1.473MM) and he turned in yet another stellar season. Short was the fourth-best interior defender in the league this season, per Pro Football Focus, and his 87.7 overall score was roughly the same as his 2015 mark, even though he had five less sacks. In June, it was said that the Panthers did not want to go too far beyond an average annual salary of $15MM. If he’s not franchised tagged or signed to a long-term deal by Carolina, there are a few teams that will happily go beyond that point.

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